House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] has passed legislation opposed by a majority of his own party nine times since becoming speaker in January 2011, according to the New York Times’ online record. It places him ahead of his predecessor [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] and four votes shy of the highest number of “Hastert Rule” violations for any speaker in the history of the Times’ record, which dates back to 1991.
The Hastert Rule, described by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2004, refers to the idea that the House speaker will only bring legislation to a vote if it has support from “the majority of the majority.”
A March 3rd vote in the House to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which passed last week, marked the ninth occasion that Boehner has violated the Hastert Rule.
The DHS funding bill mainly with Democratic votes in spite of conservative opposition to funding President Obama’s executive amnesty, with 182 Democrats joining 75 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation and 167 House Republicans voting in opposition.
Another violation of the Hastert Rule was narrowly avoided on Wednesday when Speaker Boehner brought legislation to the floor authorizing $7.2 billion for Amtrak and other rail services through 2019. However, In that case, 132 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in voting to pass the legislation against opposition from 101 Republicans. Eleven Republicans and four Democrats were not present for the vote.
Former House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] violated the Hastert Rule seven times during her speakership from 2007-2011. Hastert violated his own rule 12 times during the eight years of his tenure from 1999-2007 with five of those occasions taking place during his first two years in the House’s top leadership post. Gingrich violated the rule six times.
After four years in power, Boehner, who violated the rule five times in 2013 and twice in 2014, may be on track to exceed the 12 violations Hastert racked up in twice the time.
At a minimum, the House will face contentious votes likely to divide Republicans when the federal Export-Import Bank faces renewal in June, and when legislation to raise the federal debt limit is introduced before October.
The Export-Import Bank provides taxpayer-funded loans to corporations that do business overseas. It faces opposition from conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation which view it as “corporate welfare.”
A vote on raising the debt limit was last taken in February 2014 – and was one of the occasions on which Boehner violated the Hastert Rule.
[mc_name name=’Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’J000255′ ] (R-NC), a conservative who often finds himself on the side of his party’s losing majority, said that the practice tends to widen intra-party rifts.
“If the leadership continues to reach out to Democrats and forgets that the Republican Party has certain core principles as a party, it will create more and more animosity,” Jones said, according to The New York Times.
That animosity manifested itself in the days leading up to the vote on DHS funding in the form of advertisements produced by the American Action Network (AAN). Former Boehner chief of staff Barry Jackson and former Republican National Committee (RNC) chief of staff Mike Shields both sit on AAN’s board.
In television advertisements produced by AAN that were directed at conservative Reps. [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001283′ ] (R-OK), [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’J000289′ ] (R-OH), and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a narrator warned, “Some in Washington are willing to put our security at risk by jeopardizing critical security funding” before urging viewers to call the targeted member to complain.
AAN also paid for live calls bearing a similar message directed at constituents in another 50 House districts. The organization created digital messages aimed at conservative members in nine districts.
Asked whether Boehner approved of the ads, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that he did not.
“We are forbidden by law from coordinating with outside political groups – but the Speaker does not think these ads are appropriate. He strongly believes in Ronald Reagan’s ‘11th Commandment,” Steel said in an e-mail.
[mc_name name=’Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001057′ ] told me that he did not take Steel’s comments at face value.
“He punishes people with whom he disagrees,” Huelskamp said, referring to Boehner. “The RINOs in the conference — they do whatever they want. At the end of the day, that’s who the speaker usually votes with.”
RINO is an acronym for “Republicans in Name Only,” a derogatory term used by conservatives to describe more liberal members of the party.
Huelskamp added that the establishment wing of the Republican Party keeps promising to become more conservative and unify the caucus — sometime in the future. “It’s always the next election down the road. Conservatives are sick and tired of being told it’s just around the bend.”
“For many conservatives, there’s no way they’re going to trust the speaker again,” Huelskamp said.